“The right amenities are a crucial ingredient in a choice-based workplace experience. Workspaces that provide variety and encourage in-office mobility have higher effectiveness and experience scores.” -Gensler 2019 U.S. Workplace Survey
In the United States, the unemployment rate is at the lowest point since 1969. This creates a need for employers to make their offices competitive. Since the release of the last U.S. Workplace Survey from Gensler in 2016 - Millennials and Generation Z have become a large portion of the workforce. The younger generation of workers tend to pursue organizations that hold the same values as they do, provide a healthy work/life balance, and ultimately include the right amenities in the workplace. The notation of creating a workplace containing popular amenities are driving organizations to adapt their offices and provide improved employee experiences.
So which workplace environments work best? Gensler’s 2019 U.S. Workplace Survey revealed that “environments that are mostly open environments but provide ample on-demand private space have both the highest effectiveness and the highest experience scores.”
The amenities with the highest effectiveness and experience scores have a common trend, they help employees work more efficiently. The spaces encompass areas for innovation, making, and collaboration, while providing quiet places to perform focused or individual work. With the growth of the open office layout, it is not a surprise to see focus rooms on the list of the top five workplace amenities.
Focus rooms provide a space that allows employees to touch down and relax or to work in a more private setting. In recent office design, focus rooms have taken several different shapes.
Focus or Phone Rooms
The most common focus room design is envisioned to only be large enough for one to two people. The original intent was to use the rooms for phone or conference calls to limit disturbances for open office neighbors. The use has evolved to now not only being used for phone calls but also for heads down individual work. Ultimately, it is important to provide good acoustic separation between the focus rooms and adjacent spaces in order to minimize sound transfers.
Unlike fully enclosed focus / phone rooms, alcoves are semi-enclosed spaces that are surrounded by only two or three walls. These spaces are used for informal or impromptu collaboration. This provides employees the ability to move and the flexibility to work in various locations that fit their needs.
Libraries or Lounges
The library or lounge approach to focus rooms becomes more of a quiet area than a room due to the size of the space. What makes them effective is the universal understanding that the space is a quiet work zone. Typically, they are smaller than an employee lounge and may only contain a communal table and lounge seating. It is important that library or lounge spaces do not encroach on louder zones of the office.
The ideal focus area will differ from person to person. However, implementing focus rooms and quiet touchdown spaces give employees the flexibility to work where they are most comfortable. Catering to employees’ experiences will provide companies with a competitive edge when it comes to recruiting and keeping talent in this tight market.
For more on workplace amenities, check out our post on outdoor workspaces and how they can benefit both the employer and employee.
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